When I first heard about the awards, I was intrigued by what attributes were expected for the female award category; I believed that I did have most of the characteristics. Then I also noted that the sponsor of the awards was Rolls-Royce! Having the opportunity to work in aerospace filled me with so much excitement. Having already been involved in the women in STEM community, influencing young girls to take on a STEM subject and speaking to employers to improve diversity within companies, really pushed me to apply and get out of my comfort zone.
The application process is such a good opportunity to practise not only the online tests but the sponsor questions, as they are very similar to when you apply for a graduate job. Practise makes perfect so once I had completed the questions using purely my experience at university and my extracurricular activities, I practised the online tests and submitted my application in January. I felt accomplished even at this point as I had put a lot of effort into my application. I was very proud of it.
The next surreal experience was getting through to the assessment centre and the top 20! I had to utilise my skills of presenting and networking and I got to meet some amazing engineers at Rolls-Royce. This included some amazing women, showing how diversity can increase the ability of any company. It was amazing to meet like-minded women too.
If you asked me back in January if I would make it to the top ten of the Female Undergraduate of the Year Award, I would have been embarrassed as I would have loved the idea, but in reality I doubted it. However, here I am, and I can safely say it has been the experience of a lifetime. Along with my amazing internship with Rolls-Royce, it has shaped my future for the better and I am so grateful to everyone who organises such an impressive award.
A few tips I would give for those ready to apply for the awards would be:
1. Believe in your ability. These awards are here to celebrate your abilities and experiences. I didn’t believe I would make it this far. However, here I am, and it is because I ensured all my experiences were captured in my application. This brings me to my next point.
2. Put yourself out there. Gain experiences that will help you in the awards and, in turn, your future. This I cannot stress enough. There is no glass ceiling and the only way to understand that is by pushing yourself to the best of your ability.
3. Finally, you must always be yourself and get help from those around you. Encouragement can go a long way and keep you positive. I wish everyone luck with their applications. I can promise it will be the most beneficial experience you could ask for.